Manitoba

Military costs in northern Manitoba manhunt for B.C. fugitives pegged at $123K

Canada's military spent nearly $123,000 to find two murder suspects during the hectic manhunt in northern Manitoba last summer.

B.C. RCMP said their costs added up to $750K, while Manitoba Mounties spent 'well under' $800K

The military spent around four days searching thousands of square kilometres for any sign of the two B.C. homicide suspects. They were found dead more than two weeks after the massive police search began. (Angela Johnston/CBC)

The final price tag attached to a manhunt in northern Manitoba last summer could be nearly $1.7 million, after the military announced the tally for its involvement was $123,000.

The cost for the Canadian Armed Forces covers the price of deploying personnel and two aircraft for the expansive search effort for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, as well as maintenance and support needs, the military said in an email this month.

The $122,958 bill does not account for any salaries, nor the cost of equipment the military already owns.

In addition to the military's bill, RCMP in B.C. spent $750,000 to investigate the three homicides for which the duo were wanted. Manitoba RCMP have not provided an exact figure for their costs, but have previously said they were "expected to be well under $800,000."

In videos made before McLeod and Schmegelsky killed themselves, the duo admitted to killing botanist Leonard Dyck, American Chynna Deese and her Australian boyfriend, Lucas Fowler in B.C.

Military aid requested

The hunt for the fugitives, which ended in the dense, unforgiving terrain near Gillam, Man., captivated the country and brought international attention. The search ended with the discovery of the men's bodies after 16 days.

The military landed in northern Manitoba to help on July 27, four days into the police hunt.

Kam McLeod, left, and Bryer Schmegelsky were captured on surveillance footage leaving a store in Meadow Lake, Sask., on July 21. They met their end in the dense, unforgiving terrain of northern Manitoba. (RCMP)

The Armed Forces brought a CP-140 Aurora aircraft with infrared camera and imaging radar surveillance systems, a CC-130H Hercules with trained search and rescue spotters, and a number of crew members.

For about four days, the aircraft scoured key points in northern Manitoba, including Gillam, Sundance, York Landing and the Nelson River. They also searched farther north to Churchill, and east to James Bay.

The Hercules spent nearly 24 hours searching in the air, while the Aurora was scouring the terrain for more than 17 hours.

The military's search efforts ended on July 30. The next day, the RCMP, which led the mission, announced they would scale back their deployment. The military remained on standby until Aug. 8, the day after police found the bodies.

A routine review of the military's mission commended the air force for completing the task quickly.

A pilot on the Royal Canadian Air Force CC-130H Hercules aircraft from 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron in Winnipeg arrived in Gillam on July 27 to help with the search. (Gilbert Rowan/CBC)

The Hercules and Aurora air crews "accomplished their missions, providing surveillance on specified geographical features, and investigated numerous objects of interest, in a safe, agile, and effective manner," said the report, obtained by CBC through an access to information request.

But the report flagged a few communication problems, including "some confusion" over who could direct the search planes and concern the RCMP was dealing with multiple military contacts rather than one.

About the Author

Ian Froese

Reporter

Ian Froese is a reporter with CBC Manitoba. He has previously worked for newspapers in Brandon and Steinbach. Story idea? Email: ian.froese@cbc.ca.

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